Legislature(2009 - 2010)BUTROVICH 205

03/17/2010 01:30 PM Senate HEALTH & SOCIAL SERVICES

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved SB 193 Out of Committee
Heard & Held
Moved CSSB 172(HSS) Out of Committee
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
      SENATE HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                    
                         March 17, 2010                                                                                         
                           1:36 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Bettye Davis, Chair                                                                                                     
Senator Joe Paskvan, Vice Chair                                                                                                 
Senator Johnny Ellis                                                                                                            
Senator Fred Dyson                                                                                                              
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Senator Joe Thomas                                                                                                              
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
SENATE BILL NO. 193                                                                                                             
"An Act relating  to licensure as an  optometrist; establishing a                                                               
retired  status   optometrist  license;  and  providing   for  an                                                               
effective date."                                                                                                                
     - MOVED SB 193 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                            
SENATE BILL NO. 172                                                                                                             
"An Act  establishing the  Alaska Health  Care Commission  in the                                                               
Department of  Health and Social  Services; and providing  for an                                                               
effective date."                                                                                                                
     - MOVED CSSB 172(HSS) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                     
SENATE BILL NO. 295                                                                                                             
"An  Act relating  to flame  retardants and  to the  manufacture,                                                               
sale, and  distribution of products containing  flame retardants;                                                               
relating to  bioaccumulative toxic  chemicals; and  providing for                                                               
an effective date."                                                                                                             
     - HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                           
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: SB 193                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: LICENSING FOR OPTOMETRY                                                                                            
SPONSOR(s): LABOR & COMMERCE BY REQUEST                                                                                         
04/17/09       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
04/17/09       (S)       HSS, L&C                                                                                               
03/17/10       (S)       HSS AT 1:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
BILL: SB 172                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: ALASKA HEALTH CARE COMMISSION                                                                                      
SPONSOR(s): OLSON                                                                                                               
03/27/09       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
03/27/09       (S)       HSS, FIN                                                                                               
04/17/09       (S)       HSS AT 1:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
04/17/09       (S)       Scheduled But Not Heard                                                                                
04/18/09       (S)       HSS AT 10:00 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                          
04/18/09       (S)       -- MEETING CANCELED --                                                                                 
02/03/10       (S)       HSS AT 1:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
02/03/10       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
02/03/10       (S)       MINUTE(HSS)                                                                                            
03/10/10       (S)       HSS AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)                                                                      
03/10/10       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/10/10       (S)       MINUTE(HSS)                                                                                            
03/17/10       (S)       HSS AT 1:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
BILL: SB 295                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: FLAME RETARDANTS AND TOXIC CHEMICALS                                                                               
SPONSOR(s): WIELECHOWSKI                                                                                                        
02/24/10       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/24/10       (S)       HSS, FIN                                                                                               
03/17/10       (S)       HSS AT 1:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
JILL MATHESON, OD, Chair                                                                                                        
Alaska State Optometry Board                                                                                                    
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 193.                                                                                         
DENISE LICCIOLI                                                                                                                 
Staff to Senator Olson                                                                                                          
State Capitol                                                                                                                   
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT: Presented SB 172.                                                                                         
BILL HOGAN, Commissioner                                                                                                        
Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS)                                                                                 
Anchorage, AK                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 172.                                                                                         
D. TYRELL MCGIRT                                                                                                                
Alaska Primary Care Association                                                                                                 
Iliuliuk Family & Health Services, Inc                                                                                          
Unalaska/Dutch Harbor, AK                                                                                                       
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 172 and requested that                                                                       
community health care be represented on the commission.                                                                         
MARIE DARLIN                                                                                                                    
AARP Capital City Taskforce                                                                                                     
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 172.                                                                                         
J. KATE BURKHART, Executive Director                                                                                            
Alaska Mental Health Board (AMHB) and Advisory Board on                                                                         
Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (ABADA)                                                                                               
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 172.                                                                                         
SONIA HANDFORTH-KOME, Acting President                                                                                          
Alaska Primary Care Association and                                                                                             
Executive Director                                                                                                              
Iliuliuk Family & Health Services, Inc                                                                                          
Unalaska/Dutch Harbor, AK                                                                                                       
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 172                                                                                          
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI                                                                                                            
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of SB 295.                                                                                        
MEGAN ROGERS                                                                                                                    
Intern to Senator Wielechowski                                                                                                  
State Capitol                                                                                                                   
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT: Presented SB 295.                                                                                         
LORI VERBRUGGE                                                                                                                  
Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS)                                                                                 
Anchorage, AK                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT: Was available to answer questions.                                                                        
DR. DAVID HEIMBACH, Professor of Surgery                                                                                        
University of Washington                                                                                                        
Seattle, WA                                                                                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 295.                                                                                           
PATTI SAUNDERS, Director of Development                                                                                         
ARC of Anchorage                                                                                                                
Anchorage, AK                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 295.                                                                                         
JIM GILL, representing himself                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 295.                                                                                           
GREG PATTERSON, representing himself                                                                                            
POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 295.                                                                                           
KRISTIN RYAN, Director                                                                                                          
Division of Environmental Health                                                                                                
Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)                                                                                  
Anchorage, AK                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT: Was available for questions on SB 295.                                                                    
SARA HANNON, RN, representing herself                                                                                           
Anchorage, AK                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 295.                                                                                         
Pamela K. Miller Executive Director                                                                                             
Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT)                                                                                        
Anchorage, AK                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 295.                                                                                         
SHARON WHYTAL, RN, representing herself                                                                                         
Homer, AK                                                                                                                       
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 295.                                                                                         
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
1:36:42 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR BETTYE DAVIS called the Senate Health and Social Services                                                               
Standing Committee meeting to order at 1:36 p.m. Present at the                                                                 
call to order were Senators Ellis, Paskvan, and Davis.                                                                          
                 SB 193-LICENSING FOR OPTOMETRY                                                                             
1:37:00 PM                                                                                                                    
Chair Davis announced consideration of SB 193.                                                                                  
1:37:32 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  PASKVAN,  sponsor of  SB  193,  said this  bill  updates                                                               
optometric  licensure  criteria  by standardizing  the  level  of                                                               
optometric licensure  as opposed to  the current three  levels of                                                               
licensure.  This   will  align   Alaska  statutes   with  current                                                               
education  levels that  are standard  in most  optometric schools                                                               
nationwide. Many states have  already passed similar legislation.                                                               
Alaskans deserve  the most current  care possible  and continuing                                                               
to license less than the  standard education levels puts citizens                                                               
at risk,  he said.  The Labor  and Commerce  Committee introduced                                                               
the bill at the request of the Board of Optometry.                                                                              
1:39:00 PM                                                                                                                    
JILL MATHESON, OD  and Chair, Alaska State  Optometry Board, said                                                               
the Optometric Association  is also advocating for SB  193 on the                                                               
board's behalf.  She related the bill  contains some housekeeping                                                               
changes but the focus is to  have one uniform level of licensure.                                                               
It's in the best interest of  the public to have all optometrists                                                               
qualified at the  same level. The bill does not  change the scope                                                               
of practice  or allow any  more privileges and it  doesn't remove                                                               
the requirements that the Legislature  put in place several years                                                               
ago.  A grandfather  clause  is included  so  that current  lower                                                               
level  licensees could  continue to  practice under  a restricted                                                               
license.  The  restricted  license  could be  upgraded  once  the                                                               
educational requirements have been met.                                                                                         
1:40:07 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR DYSON joined the meeting.                                                                                               
CHAIR  DAVIS closed  public  testimony and  noted  that the  bill                                                               
didn't appear to have any opposition.                                                                                           
SENATOR  PASKVAN  moved to  report  SB  193 from  committee  with                                                               
individual  recommendations  and  attached zero  fiscal  note(s).                                                               
There being  no objection,  SB 193 moved  from the  Senate Health                                                               
and Social Services Standing Committee.                                                                                         
At ease from 1:42 p.m. to 1:43 p.m.                                                                                             
              SB 172-ALASKA HEALTH CARE COMMISSION                                                                          
1:43:54 PM                                                                                                                    
Chair  Davis announced  consideration  of SB  172.  It was  heard                                                               
DENISE LICCIOLI,  Staff to  Senator Donald  Olson, sponsor  of SB
172, said the sponsor has  seen the proposed committee substitute                                                               
and has no objection.                                                                                                           
CHAIR DAVIS  moved to adopt  the work draft  committee substitute                                                               
(CS) for  SB 172,  labeled 26-LS0790\P  as the  working document.                                                               
There being no objection, version P was before the committee.                                                                   
1:47:04 PM                                                                                                                    
BILL  HOGAN,  Commissioner,  Department   of  Health  and  Social                                                               
Services (DHSS), spoke in favor of  CSSB 172 to create the Alaska                                                               
Health Care  Commission in statute. The  temporary commission has                                                               
been  focusing  on how  to  improve  access  to the  health  care                                                               
system, contain the  growth of cost, improve  quality and safety,                                                               
and put  increased emphasis on  prevention programs  like tobacco                                                               
cessation  and  obesity prevention.  He  stated  his belief  that                                                               
having  the Alaska  Health  Care Commission  in  place will  help                                                               
position  the state  to  address costs  related  to the  Medicaid                                                               
budget and to prepare for the national health care reform.                                                                      
1:48:43 PM                                                                                                                    
D. TYRELL  MCGIRT, Alaska Primary  Care Association  (APCA), said                                                               
he  is also  a board  member with  the Iliuliuk  Family &  Health                                                               
Services Clinic Inc.,  the community health care  (CHC) center in                                                               
Unalaska/Dutch  Harbor. While  APCA  believes  the committee  has                                                               
done  an  outstanding  job   identifying  different  health  care                                                               
representatives to  sit on the  commission, they would  point out                                                               
that specific representation by  community health care centers is                                                               
missing and  could offer a  great deal. Community  health centers                                                               
are a  proven model  of primary and  preventative care  in Alaska                                                               
and  nationwide. They  never turn  patients away,  42 percent  of                                                               
their users are uninsured, and 72  percent of their users are low                                                               
income. Alaska  has 26 CHCs  with 146  sites and in  rural Alaska                                                               
they  are often  the  only option  for  primary and  preventative                                                               
health care. He  reiterated support for a seat  on the commission                                                               
specifically for community health centers.                                                                                      
1:51:44 PM                                                                                                                    
MARIE DARLIN,  AARP Capital City Taskforce,  Juneau, Alaska, said                                                               
AARP adds its voice to those  supporting SB 172 to make permanent                                                               
the  Alaska Health  Care  Commission. Not  all  of the  decisions                                                               
regarding health care  will be made in Washington  DC; Alaska has                                                               
to decide how  national health care will be applied  here so that                                                               
it works for everybody.                                                                                                         
1:53:38 PM                                                                                                                    
J. KATE BURKHART, Executive Director,  Alaska Mental Health Board                                                               
(AMHB)  and  the Advisory  Board  on  Alcoholism and  Drug  Abuse                                                               
(ABADA), thanked the committee for  including a representative of                                                               
the Alaska  Mental Health  Trust Authority in  the CS  and echoed                                                               
previous testimony  from the  Primary Care  Association regarding                                                               
the importance of dedicating a  specific seat to community health                                                               
centers. Most indigent Alaskans  receive health care through CHCs                                                               
so having someone  familiar with practicing in  that context will                                                               
be  imperative to  addressing  the issue  of  rising health  care                                                               
costs, particularly the Medicaid budget.                                                                                        
1:55:27 PM                                                                                                                    
SONIA  HANDFORTH-KOME,  Acting  President,  Alaska  Primary  Care                                                               
Association  (APCA), and  Executive Director,  Iliuliuk Family  &                                                               
Health Services  Clinic Inc. in  Unalaska/Dutch Harbor,  said she                                                               
is speaking  in favor of SB  172 but she believes  that there has                                                               
been  a little  oversight in  not providing  a specific  seat for                                                               
community health  centers. The commission  is looking  for varied                                                               
view points and ways to reduce  health care costs and CHCs have a                                                               
proven track  record for  doing that on  a national  level. Their                                                               
perspective  is  different  than the  hospital  perspective,  the                                                               
tribal perspective, or the for-profit  perspective so it would be                                                               
useful for the commission to  have this representation. In Alaska                                                               
CHCs see 1 in 9 patients in  142 sites so they're a solution that                                                               
works.  APCA   would  like  that   to  be  represented   on  this                                                               
commission, she concluded.                                                                                                      
1:57:21 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  PASKVAN asked  how  many  of the  142  sites are  tribal                                                               
health community sites.                                                                                                         
MS.  HANDFORTH-KOME replied  she isn't  sure,  but 13  of the  26                                                               
community health center organizations are tribal.                                                                               
SENATOR ELLIS  commented that  he went to  Unalaska 18  years ago                                                               
when the  clinic opened and  last fall  he visited again  and was                                                               
impressed with their outstanding work in the community.                                                                         
MS. HANDFORTH-KOME said  they're getting ready to  do a community                                                               
health needs assessment in an effort to do more with less.                                                                      
SENATOR  DYSON commented  that they  must have  the world's  most                                                               
interesting clientele.                                                                                                          
MS. HANDFORTH-KOME  agreed; providers  actually visit  because of                                                               
the interesting clientele, she said.                                                                                            
1:59:24 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DAVIS  closed public testimony.  She stated that  while she                                                               
agrees  with the  statements about  the community  health centers                                                               
she believes that can be addressed in a subsequent committee.                                                                   
SENATOR PASKVAN  moved to report  CSSB 172,  labeled 26-LS0790\P,                                                               
from the  committee with individual recommendations  and attached                                                               
fiscal note(s).  There being no  objection, CSSB 172  (HSS) moved                                                               
from Senate Health and Social Services Standing Committee.                                                                      
At ease from 2:01 p.m. to 2:03 p.m.                                                                                             
          SB 295-FLAME RETARDANTS AND TOXIC CHEMICALS                                                                       
2:03:04 PM                                                                                                                    
Chair Davis announced the consideration of SB 295.                                                                              
MEGAN ROGERS,  Intern to Senator  Bill Wielechowski, said  SB 295                                                               
will ban  the use  of Polybrominated  diphenyl ethers  (PBDEs) as                                                               
flame retardants in consumer  products like mattresses, textiles,                                                               
and electronics.  These chemicals are bio-accumulative  and toxic                                                               
to  humans  and  the  environment.   When  PBDEs  burn  they  can                                                               
potentially  create more  toxic substances,  including a  form of                                                               
dioxin, making them highly dangerous  for firefighters battling a                                                               
blaze.  Alternatives  to  their   use  are  available  and  cost-                                                               
effective.  Eleven states  have  proposed and  four have  enacted                                                               
PDBE policies  prohibiting the manufacture, distribution  and use                                                               
of products containing PBDEs.                                                                                                   
SB 295 will empower the  Department of Environmental Conservation                                                               
(DEC)  to educate  retailers to  identify  products that  contain                                                               
these chemicals and  fine companies that fail to  comply with the                                                               
ban.  The Department  of  Environmental  Conservation (DEC)  must                                                               
develop  a  list  of  chemicals   of  concern  along  with  other                                                               
alternatives and every three years  report on the progress of the                                                               
ban.  Exemptions apply  if the  prohibited product  is part  of a                                                               
transportation  vehicle  or   if  the  product  is   used  in  an                                                               
industrial mining process or a resold item.                                                                                     
Every year 50 million pounds of  PBDEs are built into products in                                                               
North  America  even  though  it's   a  developmental  toxin  and                                                               
possible  carcinogen. SB  295 attempts  to protect  Alaskans from                                                               
preventable exposure to these toxins.                                                                                           
2:07:28 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR PASKVAN  asked if the intent  is that this will  apply to                                                               
household  products or  if  it  is intended  to  be more  broadly                                                               
applicable to public buildings.                                                                                                 
MS.  ROGERS  said most  major  name-brand  companies already  use                                                               
alternatives to PDBEs.                                                                                                          
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  added that  the bill essentially  says that                                                               
the  use,  manufacture  or  distribution  of  PBDE  chemicals  is                                                               
prohibited with  the limited exceptions  listed on page  2, lines                                                               
21-30. It just so happens that  the majority of the products that                                                               
contain these chemicals are in households.                                                                                      
SENATOR PASKVAN asked if there's  any evidence that banning these                                                               
chemicals  would  increase  the  frequency of  fires  or  related                                                               
MS.  ROGERS  deferred the  question  to  Ms. Verbrugge  with  the                                                               
Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS).                                                                                
2:11:00 PM                                                                                                                    
LORI VERBRUGGE, Department of Health  and Social Services (DHSS),                                                               
said  she is  a  toxicologist  so her  expertise  relates to  the                                                               
environmental behavior of PBDE chemicals  and their effect on the                                                               
health  on humans  and  animals. She  doesn't  have expertise  to                                                               
answer  the specific  question regarding  the possible  increased                                                               
risk of fire and related injuries.                                                                                              
SENATOR PASKVAN asked  if she has any  anecdotal information that                                                               
would  indicate   an  unintended  consequence  of   banning  PBDE                                                               
MS VERBRUGGE replied she hasn't heard anything to that effect.                                                                  
2:12:33 PM                                                                                                                    
DR.  DAVID   HEIMBACH,  Professor   of  Surgery,   University  of                                                               
Washington,  said  he takes  care  of  all  of the  Alaskan  burn                                                               
patients and there  were about 35 last year. He  said that he has                                                               
very strong feelings that sort  of flame retardant should be used                                                               
in sleepwear  and mattresses because  people who don't  have this                                                               
protection  are at  significant risk  in  the event  of fire.  He                                                               
related a  story of a  six-week-old baby whose crib  mattress did                                                               
not have  flame retardant. A dog  knocked a candle into  the crib                                                               
and  the baby  sustained a  devastating  75 percent  burn, but  a                                                               
pillow in the bed had flame retardant and did not catch fire.                                                                   
DR. HEIMBACH  stressed that he is  not "in the pocket"  of anyone                                                               
who produces  flame retardant, but  he believes that  having some                                                               
kind of flame retardant in products  that are at risk of catching                                                               
fire is imperative. He related another  incident of a 70 year old                                                               
woman whose  chenille robe caught  fire when she leaned  over her                                                               
gas stove. She  sustained a 35 percent total body  burn. This was                                                               
devastating for the  woman and her grandchildren  who watched her                                                               
catch fire.                                                                                                                     
He urged the committee to  think very carefully before completely                                                               
banning  fire  retardants.  The Environmental  Protection  Agency                                                               
(EPA)  is  working with  manufacturers  to  remove deca-BDE  from                                                               
flame retardants by 2013 and he  believes that it would be highly                                                               
premature for a  state to ban their use before  an alternative is                                                               
2:16:53 PM                                                                                                                    
PATTI  SAUNDERS,  Director  of  Development,  ARC  of  Anchorage,                                                               
stated  strong support  for SB  295.  She explained  that ARC  of                                                               
Anchorage is  a private  not-for-profit organization  that serves                                                               
people with  developmental disabilities and mental  health issues                                                               
so that  they can lead  rich and  productive lives. She  said she                                                               
and her  coworkers would be happy  to go out of  business because                                                               
all preventable  disabilities have been prevented,  but they need                                                               
legislative   help   to    address   prevention.   Learning   and                                                               
developmental disabilities impact the  quality of life for people                                                               
and their  families and  impose a financial  burden on  the state                                                               
through special  education and increased  health care  costs. The                                                               
incidence  of learning  and developmental  disabilities has  been                                                               
rising  rapidly.  In  fact,  7.3 percent  of  the  public  school                                                               
students in the Anchorage School District have disabilities.                                                                    
Scientific evidence has proven  that certain chemicals, including                                                               
deca-BDE, can  cause learning and developmental  disorders. Young                                                               
children's   developing  brains   and  bodies   are  particularly                                                               
susceptible to  exposure and  the damage  can be  permanent. PBDE                                                               
residues have  been consistently found  in tissue samples  of new                                                               
mothers and their infants. Ingesting  contaminated breast milk is                                                               
one of  two major sources of  PBDE exposure in children.  This is                                                               
an  issue  worldwide,  although North  American  women  have  the                                                               
largest average body  burden of PBDE's. SB 295  will help protect                                                               
children from needless  exposure to this toxic  chemical. So much                                                               
in life can't  be controlled but adults do have  an obligation to                                                               
their children to take responsibility  for things that can make a                                                               
difference. SB 295 can make a difference.                                                                                       
MS.  SAUNDERS referenced  the previous  testimony and  noted that                                                               
the International Association of  Firefighters has gone on record                                                               
opposing the use of PDBEs  because their use puts firefighters at                                                               
much higher risk.                                                                                                               
2:22:56 PM                                                                                                                    
JIM GILL, representing  himself, stated opposition to  SB 295. He                                                               
personally knows  people whose lives  were saved because  of fire                                                               
retardants.  Until  there's  a better  solution,  the  costs  can                                                               
outweigh whatever benefit might be achieved by passing SB 295.                                                                  
2:24:07 PM                                                                                                                    
GREG  PATTERSON,  representing  himself,   said  he  has  been  a                                                               
volunteer fireman much  of his life. He carries  burn victims out                                                               
of  buildings  and he  strongly  believes  that people  need  the                                                               
protection provided  by flame retardants.  He questioned  why the                                                               
ban is  placed on some  but not  all products if  these chemicals                                                               
are so dangerous, and suggested it  might be better to wait until                                                               
the definitive  research is  finished before  making this  a law.                                                               
The benefits  of these life-saving retardants  might outweigh the                                                               
dangers  of  using  them,  but  that won't  be  clear  until  the                                                               
research is done. While studies  of these bio-accumulative toxins                                                               
do indicate  danger, the  Center for  Disease Control  has stated                                                               
that the  conditions have  to be ideal  to enter  the environment                                                               
and  the exposure  has to  be acute  and repeated.  He urged  the                                                               
committee  to wait  until all  of  the information  is in  before                                                               
making these chemicals illegal.                                                                                                 
2:28:19 PM                                                                                                                    
KRISTIN  RYAN,   Director,  Division  of   Environmental  Health,                                                               
Department of Environmental Conservation  (DEC), Alaska, said she                                                               
is available for questions.                                                                                                     
2:28:38 PM                                                                                                                    
SARA  HANNON, representing  herself, said  she recently  became a                                                               
registered  nurse and  she is  speaking in  strong support  of SB
295.  It will  phase  out  PBDEs and  support  the  use of  safer                                                               
alternatives that are already on  the market. PBDEs are linked to                                                               
thyroid  problems,  which  is   significant  because  changes  in                                                               
thyroid  hormone levels  affect  almost all  the  systems in  the                                                               
body. Since safer  alternatives are available, there  should be a                                                               
law supporting  their use. During clinical  rotations she learned                                                               
that  some babies  and  children  may spend  a  year  or more  in                                                               
hospitals  sleeping on  mattresses  that may  contain PBDEs.  The                                                               
first day she rotated in the  emergency room a woman came in with                                                               
an inhalation injury  from her couch that was  treated with flame                                                               
retardant and didn't  burn. She later died and  the physician and                                                               
nurses speculated  that it  was because  she inhaled  toxic fumes                                                               
from the couch. SB 295 makes a lot of sense, she concluded.                                                                     
2:31:28 PM                                                                                                                    
PAMELA K.  MILLER Executive Director, Alaska  Community Action on                                                               
Toxics (ACAT), said she is a  biologist speaking in support of SB
295. ACAT  is a statewide environmental  health organization that                                                               
conducts  research and  provides educational  programs, technical                                                               
assistance,  and training.  She noted  that she  provided written                                                               
information about  the harms related  to this class  of chemicals                                                               
and  the strong  support  firefighting  and health  organizations                                                               
have expressed for the ban.                                                                                                     
PBDEs  are  used  in plastic  casings  of  consumer  electronics,                                                               
upholstered furniture,  and mattresses,  but there are  safer and                                                               
effective  alternatives. PBDEs  are chemically  similar to  PCBs,                                                               
which  have been  banned for  30 years.  They are  persistent and                                                               
tend to accumulate in the bodies of animals and people.                                                                         
Addressing  fire  safety,  she   said  that  phasing  these  fire                                                               
retardant chemicals out does not  mean lowering safety standards.                                                               
Many electronic manufacturers have  already adopted new materials                                                               
and designs  that meet  safety codes without  relying on  deca or                                                               
other bromanated flame retardants.  These alternate products have                                                               
saved thousands of  lives and their use has  not been accompanied                                                               
by an increase in fires or fire casualties.                                                                                     
MS.  MILLER  said  they  know that  people  are  exposed  through                                                               
inhalation of  indoor air  and dust  particles and  through foods                                                               
that are contaminated  with PBDEs. Exposure occurs  in the uterus                                                               
and infants  are exposed through  the mother's breast  milk. Over                                                               
time PBDEs have increased significantly  in the bodies of people,                                                               
particularly  in North  America. Northern  people are  at greater                                                               
risk of exposure because these  chemicals are transported through                                                               
wind  and ocean  currents and  they  tend to  concentrate in  the                                                               
flesh  of animals  that  are used  as  traditional food  sources.                                                               
Alaskans  may also  be at  higher  risk because  their homes  are                                                               
closed in more than homes in warmer climates.                                                                                   
PDBEs are  known to harm neurodevelopment,  reproduction, thyroid                                                               
function,  and are  implicated in  immune system  suppression. SB
295 is  an important measure  to protect the health  of Alaskans,                                                               
particularly those fighting fires.  It is especially important as                                                               
a  measure to  protect the  health of  children whose  developing                                                               
brains  are more  vulnerable.  SB 295  will  not compromise  fire                                                               
safety or  harm Alaska  businesses because  of the  prevalence of                                                               
safer alternatives. She urged passage.                                                                                          
2:37:22 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  PASKVAN  asked  if she  has  any  information  regarding                                                               
whether the ban of PBDEs  would increase the frequency of hazards                                                               
or related injuries of fire.                                                                                                    
MS. MILLER answered  that in places where PBDEs  have been banned                                                               
there has been no compromise in fire safety.                                                                                    
SENATOR  PASKVAN  referenced the  testimony  that  cited the  CDC                                                               
research and asked if the  scientific community is divided on the                                                               
2:38:53 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  MILLER responded  she  believes that  the  consensus in  the                                                               
scientific  and  health  communities  is  quite  clear  and  more                                                               
studies are coming  out in peer review literature  every day. The                                                               
EPA  recognized   the  significant  harm  that   deca  and  other                                                               
brominated flame  retardants present  and negotiated  a voluntary                                                               
phase  out with  three major  manufacturers. She  reiterated that                                                               
there are  effective, safe,  and economical  alternatives already                                                               
on the market.  This bill is not about  compromising fire safety.                                                               
That wouldn't be responsible, but  it is responsible to phase out                                                               
this class of chemicals that are highly harmful to human health.                                                                
SENATOR  PASKVAN summarized  that she  believes that  fire safety                                                               
will  be comparable  and the  health  risks to  Alaskans will  be                                                               
MS. MILLER agreed.                                                                                                              
2:40:44 PM                                                                                                                    
SHARON  WHYTAL, representing  herself, said  she is  a registered                                                               
nurse who supports SB 295 and  she would urge the committee to do                                                               
likewise. As  a nurse,  she is  concerned about  emerging science                                                               
linking PBDEs  to adverse health  effects including  learning and                                                               
memory  impairment,   brain  development,  cancer,   and  thyroid                                                               
problems. Higher  concentrations of these chemicals  are found in                                                               
northern  regions, but  scientists are  finding impacts  at lower                                                               
SB  295  is an  important  measure  to  protect workers  and  the                                                               
general public.  In fact, the American  Public Health Association                                                               
has passed a  resolution urging state and  federal governments to                                                               
phase out the use of PDBEs  in products manufactured in the U. S.                                                               
Safer alternatives are already available  so fire safety wouldn't                                                               
be compromised by  eliminating PDBEs. As a society we  need to be                                                               
proactive about health issues; many  other countries have already                                                               
taken this step, she concluded.                                                                                                 
CHAIR  DAVIS  urged  anyone  who would  like  to  submit  written                                                               
testimony to do so before the  meeting on Monday. She held SB 295                                                               
in committee.                                                                                                                   
2:45:50 PM                                                                                                                    
There being no further business to come before the committee,                                                                   
Chair Davis adjourned the Senate Health and Social Services                                                                     
Standing Committee hearing at 2:45 p.m.                                                                                         

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